Georgia Tops all Fifty States in Maternal Mortality Rate – Particularly for Black Women
Abortions are banned in Georgia after six weeks. Exceptions to this rule are to save the mother’s life; if the fetus is not expected to live; if the preganancy threatens the mother’s physical health and/or if the pregnancy arose from rape or incest. Patients are required to wait 24 hours after seeking an abortion unless doing so will impact the mother’s life or health. Patients under 17 must have parental approval. Minors have to request a judicial bypass to avoid this rule. Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder calculated what effect abortion restrictions would have on maternal morbidity by state. Researchers predicted that Georgia will have a 29% increase in maternal mortality. Georgia already has the highest maternal mortality rate of all the fifty states, with 46.2 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, and for Black women that number in Georgia is 66.6 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
Maternal health care is a basic human right that should be available to every woman. However, in the United States, the maternal health crisis disproportionately affects Black women, particularly those living in rural areas. Georgia has the highest rate of rate of maternal mortality for Black women. This disparity is due in large part to the decades-old state regulatory system that gives rural Black Georgians less access to maternity care. As abortion access is restricted, more women, particularly Black women, are expected to die due to lack of access to maternal health care.
In Georgia, state regulations make it difficult for small, rural hospitals to offer obstetric care, which disproportionately affects Black women who are more likely to live in rural areas. These hospitals must meet strict regulatory requirements to provide obstetric care, including having a certain number of births per year and hiring specialized staff. These requirements are difficult for small rural hospitals to meet, leaving many Black women in these areas without access to maternity care.